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New Link Workers for GP surgeries

A new team of seven Community Link Workers (CLW) are getting set to work with patients in Inverclyde, who have social challenges that may affect their health or are already impacting upon their wellbeing. It is a move that is will see a different skill-set introduced directly into medical practices locally, helping to take some pressure off GPs.

The CLW team have been recruited by CVS Inverclyde with funding from the Scottish Government and Inverclyde HSCP, as part of the National Links Worker Programme. Each CLW will be based within local GP surgeries.

Louise Long, Chief Executive, Inverclyde HSCP, welcomed them at CVS Inverclyde's offices in the Inverclyde Community Hub, 75-81 Cathcart Street, Greenock, where they have been undergoing induction ahead of their move into the heart of the community from Monday 11 December 2017.

"The fundamental concept behind the Community Link Workers is to support patients who present at their GP due to problems that are causing or worsening a health condition, such as insomnia due to stress," said Louise Long. "While many simply don't know where to go, they trust their GP to help them."

Commenting, Dr Hector Macdonald, Clinical Director of Inverclyde HSCP, said: "The reality is that with a typical GP appointment of only ten minutes, there is not always enough time for them to fully explore the sometimes complex social issues that often lie behind the health problem. Instead, GPs may only be able to treat the symptom, such as prescribing medication for insomnia. It also means that time is taken away from doctors, who increasingly need to handle complex case loads of patients with multiple chronic health conditions."

The CLW team will be on hand within GP surgeries to support people who may be experiencing difficult family relationships, those who are lonely or socially isolated, and those at risk of homelessness. Amongst others who will benefit from their help are people who aren't getting enough physical exercise, those struggling to cope with the social effects of a health condition, such as asthma autism or diabetes, or a diagnosis of a life threatening condition, as well as those with debt or money problems.

"Not only will the Community Link Workers have much longer to spend with patients, they come with great skills in motivating people towards a more positive outcome, as well as a valuable understanding of local services where people can go for help," said Ian Bruce, Chief Executive, CVS Inverclyde. "Thanks to their extensive community engagement, the workers are also well placed to help people become more integrated and, therefore, far less lonely."

The seven new Community Links Workers are Valerie Campbell, Brenda Tinney, Elaine McKendrick, Fiona Sinclair, Jackie Smith, Margaret Mitchell and Tracy Gilmour. They will be based across individual practices in Port Glasgow Health Centre and Port Glasgow Medical Centre, Dubbs Road, as well as in the Regent Medical Practice and Dr Hussain & Partners Practice within Greenock Health Centre.

The GP, practice nurse and receptionist can all refer people on to the Community Link Worker. If they want to speak directly with them, they can also phone the surgery and ask for a call back.

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